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Are 14 clubs really necessary?

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  • Are 14 clubs really necessary?

    I posted this question to the members at my previous golf club and most of them said 'yes'. I then organised two tournaments with the club limit fixed at 7, and after these two tournaments were over, I asked the same question and most of them changed their answer to 'no'.

    I personally have been playing with 7 clubs for a long time and I have no interest in carrying any more. My set...

    Driver 360cc 9.5 - For my longer tee shots.
    5 wood 18 - for longer par three, strategic tee shots and longer fairway shots.
    5 Hybrid 26 - for all shots from 150 - 175 yds
    7 iron - for all shots from 130 - 150 yds
    9 iron - for all shots from green side to 130 yds
    SW 56 - green side bunkers, and in emergencies when the ball must go high and land soft.
    Putter - for obvious reasons and I will almost always take the putter from the fringe.

    There isn't a single length I can't cope with, within my yardages, and I am rarely left with club selection problems.

    But why carry 7 when you may carry up to 14?

    I coach this game and can no longer allocate the time to hone my swing like I could in the past. I average 4 hours of practice per week and 36 holes of play. I would say I practice and play slightly above the normal averages. Earlier in my career, when I was a good scratch player, I could treble these playing and practising figures.

    One day it dawned on me. three times the time to play and practice, 14 clubs to control, no problem. But now I have restricted practice and playing time, what can I do? I decided to economise my time and practice and play with 7 clubs. I have basically taken the more difficult clubs and gap clubs out of my bag and with the remainder, I am becoming very familiar and therefore very confident.

    There is one other reason why this decision was easy for me to make. I have often carried only a nine iron for nine holes. I do this because I am often on the course for 9 holes playing with total beginners and I like to show them how good control with one club makes the game look easier. I should really carry two clubs, adding a putter, but as I must demonstrate various things, my hands are more free with just the one.

    I have become quite good with this one club and estimate that I play bogey golf with it, on average. The courses that I have played fortunately have no long carry frontal water hazards and I can always find short grass somewhere with the nine iron, which I rarely hit or try to hit further than 140 yds.

    I blade my putts and this has really ironed out any twitches in my stroke. I rarely 3 putt any green with it. This did however take a good bit of practice.

    So, Are 14 clubs really necessary? For tour pros probably - they put in the hours - but for everyone else, probably not.

    P.S. I am getting much closer to playing to scratch again!

  • #2
    Re: Are 14 clubs really necessary?

    14 clubs are not really necessary but they are certainly more convenient (not to carry but to have more options) and you would logically have better scores with more clubs... Sure, I could play once in a while with less clubs as long as my opponents would do the same.

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    • #3
      Re: Are 14 clubs really necessary?

      Originally posted by cyc53870 View Post
      14 clubs are not really necessary but they are certainly more convenient (not to carry but to have more options) and you would logically have better scores with more clubs... Sure, I could play once in a while with less clubs as long as my opponents would do the same.
      It has not been my experience that you score better with more clubs. I would be happy to play with 7 clubs against 14 and I do. I see this as the odds being in my favour. There isn't a single distance I can't control with the set I carry and I almost never make club selection errors. A golfer may play with up to 14 clubs and the magic number for me is 7. For most golfers up to 14 means 14 and they don't really experiment with an alternative.

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      • #4
        Re: Are 14 clubs really necessary?

        I'll go ahead and play a little devil's advocate, just for the fun of the audience.

        Imagine you have a shot 110 yards to a (sucker) pin in the front, where a bunker lies just in front of that.
        Could you get there with your sand wedge? Likely not.
        Could you get your 9 iron to stop on a dime at 110 yards? Likely not.

        For me, the shot is a full swing with a 50 degree wedge choked down 1/2 inch. Carries 115 yards, spins back 1 or 2.

        I come from the camp of having 4 wedges (45,50,54,60) so I can play a number of different shots inside of 130, and have an easy two putt after that.
        Indeed, one could play bogey golf by becoming proficient around the green with just a sand wedge. One could become good enough to shoot in the mid 80s by getting up and down half of the time with a sand wedge chip or pitch. I would argue that you are missing part of the art of the short game by having one wedge.

        Part of the fun of golf for me is to look at a situation and to judge what kind of carry + roll is required to get the ball close to the hole, and having the right club for the job. While Seve Ballesteros might have been able to get out of a greenside bunker with a 3 iron, I'm glad I don't have to.

        Cheers, GB

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        • #5
          Re: Are 14 clubs really necessary?

          Originally posted by GBergstrom View Post
          I'll go ahead and play a little devil's advocate, just for the fun of the audience.

          Imagine you have a shot 110 yards to a (sucker) pin in the front, where a bunker lies just in front of that.
          Could you get there with your sand wedge? Likely not.
          Could you get your 9 iron to stop on a dime at 110 yards? Likely not.

          For me, the shot is a full swing with a 50 degree wedge choked down 1/2 inch. Carries 115 yards, spins back 1 or 2.

          I come from the camp of having 4 wedges (45,50,54,60) so I can play a number of different shots inside of 130, and have an easy two putt after that.
          Indeed, one could play bogey golf by becoming proficient around the green with just a sand wedge. One could become good enough to shoot in the mid 80s by getting up and down half of the time with a sand wedge chip or pitch. I would argue that you are missing part of the art of the short game by having one wedge.

          Part of the fun of golf for me is to look at a situation and to judge what kind of carry + roll is required to get the ball close to the hole, and having the right club for the job. While Seve Ballesteros might have been able to get out of a greenside bunker with a 3 iron, I'm glad I don't have to.

          Cheers, GB
          I used to think like that although I only ever had three wedges (48 52 56) but I don't miss the two I've dropped for any shot. In the situation you describe above I would just bite bullet and settle for the easier 5-10 yard from the pin shot. I'm not talking about tour pro standard, just scratch golf. There will be other holes I can attack, I'll settle for a safe par here or bogey if I three putt. Anything could happen if you miss your 50 just a tad and end up plugged in the bunker.

          BTW I shoot, averaging it out, in the mid seventies with my present set and with more I shoot higher.

          I played the dial a club for a certain distance for over 30 years and it just got boring. I prefer to be more imaginative and creative with less clubs. We don't have different putters for 10 or 20 or 30 feet, we use a skill called touch. With 7 clubs you are going to learn touch, creativity and imagination.

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